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Chapter 1: Family Binds
Hi, I'm the 15 year old Susseri Seses of District 7. My family, we are considered middle class here in 7. Not poor, not rich. But we are, we are rich on love. My family and I, my sister, Ayena, my mom, my dad.... We love each other more than anything in the world. They would never allow us to get tesserae. If we did, to be honest, they would wring our necks out- not kidding. My mom once said, "Though food keeps the family, family is more important". I shun those words, everytime I am hungry, pleading my father to let me, let me, let me take tesserae. But it's always the pursed lips and firm shake of head that tells me to stop, to stop pleading. So no tesserae for me.
Chapter 2: Day of Doom
No. No. No! Please let it be canceled! This year could be different! Please! I think. I think these thoughts, first thought of the day, every year. Same day. Every year. But two names will always be picked. One girl, one boy, being sent of to death. Always, forever. But I pull myself out of the mattress, shake off the blankets, get up and reluctently walk into the kitchen. "Hey Susseri." My mom says, but it is not my usual upbeat mom. This, this is my Reaping Day mom. Sad, glum, depressed. I grunt and nod in her direction. I can't talk. My mouth to dry, unwilling to cooperate. She gets it. Not even my usually happy-go-lucky sister, Ayena, is cheerful. "Hi mom... Hi... Susseri." She says glumly as she sadly strolls into the kitchen. She has no reason to be sad, though. She is only 10. Not reaping age. Not death age. But I am. Is that why she is sad? Must be. She loves me. I love her. My father comes into the kitchen just as my mom puts down the classic breakfast of bread and butter. We eat in silence, complete and total silence, until my trying-to-be-upbeat father ushers us into our rooms to get ready for the reaping.
Chapter 3: 1 Slip
We walk wordlessly to the Hall of Justice. I smooth out my pale yellow dress. Ayena scratches her ear. My parents shed a few tears. I sigh and pull my hand back to run it over my light brown hair all tied up in a bun. Why do we have to look fancy, when they send us to our death? We finally reach the Justice Building, and they go one way, and I go another. To get my finger pricked. To my possible death. I flinch as they prick my finger, but what's a bit of blood to the gallons I might shed in a week from now? No. They can't pick my name. One slip. I take a deep breath. One slip. I remind myself. I stand among my fellow 15 year old girls, some my friends, some enemies. I find my best friend Emisis in the back of the 15 crowd. I push through the crowd, but it's hard. Everyone is a statue, waiting, thinking, praying. I finally reach Emisis and take her hand and give it a squeeze. 32 slips. 32 slips in that ball have Emisis Hilf written on them. Tesserae is a well-known word in her family. It is the thing that keeps them alive. Our escort, Linne Resser, a women from the capitol with pale pink skin, an obnoxious-looking magenta wig and a puffy green dress the size of the stage. I completely tune out her long speech, only tuning back in as she says, "Well, as usual, ladies first!" In that stupid Capitol accent. She struts over to the ball on the right. One slip. Her hand claws around in the mix. One slip. One slip. She gingerly finds one and pulls it out. One slip. One slip. One slip. She struts over to the microphone. One slip. One slip. One slip. One slip. "Our District 7 female tribute is...." ONE SLIP! ONE SLIP! ONE SLIP! ONE SLIP! "Susseri Seses!"
Chapter 4: A Mistake
I..... But...... One slip! No! It must be a mistake! I look around, as this will be my last look at District 7 before I die, but all I say are the staring faces of nearby, and faraway girls, boys, parents, elders, everyone. "Well, c'mon up!" Linne says. My legs numb, I walk up to the stage, and stand next to Linne, smiling and clown-like. "Well, let's give a big round of applause for our District 7 female tribute, Susseri Seses!" A faint murmor emerges from the crowd. Of course. No one ever claps. I catch my parents eye. They are sobbing, already. Emisis. Tears emerge from her eyes. Ayena. Oh, Ayena. The one I love most is on her knees, sobbing for me. Linne, as always, seems unfazed by this common crowd reaction. She gives a perky smile and says, "Now, for the boys!" She proceeds to the bowl. But I can't watch. I do not care. I do not care who is picked. But I do hear, when she stand back with me again, opening that sealed slip, and saying, "Legan Rustker." Legan. He looks scared as he walks up. Legan. He looks like an easy kill. I will do anything to get back home. I will kill. I do not care who. Do not care how. I will do this.
Chapter 5: Goodbye, Family
The peacekeepers practiclly shove me into the Justic Building to say my goodbyes. I go up the rickety elevator, and into a small room of velvet and satin. I sit down on the couch made of riches, and wait for my first guest. My family comes barging in, and they all hug me, sobbing. "You can win this, Suss." Ayena says. I feel a pang in my heart. Suss. Tears well up in my eyes. Suss has been Ayena's nickname for me, and it brings back great memories. "And I'm gonna." I say. "I promise." WE break away from the group hug, and then it's my father who hugs me seperatly first. He whispers a few things in my ear. "Honey, you got this. Get ahold of an axe. You've always been very good with them. You have to be brave, k?" I nod my head and sniff my now-stuffed-up nose. My mother is next. She also whispers a few things. "Make alliances and get sponsers. You're a great daughter. I love you." I nod, and we break away. Ayena comes now, and I hug her tighter then ever. "I love you, Suss. I love you. You... You can do this." Our hug lasts until a peacekeeper comes rudely barreling into the room and pulling everyone out. "NO!!!" Ayena cries as she's being practiclly carried out. "Suss! Suss! I love you!" My mother and father, however, are less reluctent. "We love you, Susseri." They whisper. I cry as I sit back on the couch for more guests. The door opens. Emisis. I spring up from the couch, and we just embrace until she finally breaks away. She hands me a beaded bracelet. I know that bracelet! We made it when we were 5. She ended up keeping it though. I take the bracelet. She just nods as the peacekeeper pulls her out of the room.